As part of her exhibition "Real Lookers" at the Cohen Gallery, artist Desiree Des ('01) invites community members to exchange art or other monetary and non-monetary offerings for the posters, postcards, and hand-made buttons in her self-service, honor-system Souvenir Shop inside the gallery. Items exchanged for art souvenirs are put on display and become a community-sourced exhibition within the exhibition.
Using consumer-grade cameras, on-demand printing processes, and readymade home goods, Brooklyn-based artist Desire Des examines the tension between the photographic image and its physical presence in space. The works presented in Real Lookers often upend viewer’s expectations by throwing the ordinary legibility of snapshots and household wares into question. New perspectives are overlaid on functional objects—like plates, picture frames, and blankets—by compounding their appearances with imagery referring back to themselves. In this fashion, American life’s everyday materialism is represented through the interaction of its most familiar implements and their own images—that is, between reality and its depiction.
Des often creates socially engaging contexts for her art multiples, awarding them as prizes at public events, mailing them through the post, or selling them at a low cost in retail environments of her own devisement. This ensures that almost any viewer can choose to take something home and experience it on their own terms—even (and especially) if that means the works are placed into contexts beyond the artist’s original intention or control. In this way, Des hopes to encourage conversation about the role of art outside of traditional galleries and underscore how seeing a work over time changes both it and the viewer.
For this show, Des has created a self-service, honor-system, pay-as-you-wish Souvenir Shop where visitors may take home a postcard or poster and “pay” with their own artworks or other monetary and non-monetary offerings. These transactional goods will be displayed on pedestals in the gallery, and contributors are welcome to add the Real Lookers exhibition to their résumé.